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“And now I am being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech,” Jared Schmeck, 35, a former Medford police officer, told The Oregonian newspaper Saturday.
Schmeck said he has been receiving vague but threatening phone calls after his call to Biden on Friday was live-streamed and reported in the media.
“I am being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech.”
“I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Let’s go, Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple-minded, no matter how I feel about him,” Schmeck told the news outlet.
The livestreamed call drew media attention in part because Biden responded, “’Let’s go, Brandon,’ I agree,” even though the phrase has been used by the president’s critics to mock him.
But Schmeck, a father of four, claimed Saturday he had no ill feelings toward the president, even though he believes Biden “can be doing a better job.”
“He seems like he’s a cordial guy,” Schmeck said, referring to the president. “There’s no animosity or anything like that. It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner. … I love him just like I love any brother or sister.”
Schmeck added he “stood 100% behind what I did and what I said,” according to the paper.
“At the end of the day, I have nothing against Mr. Biden,” Schmeck said in the same interview with The Oregonian, “but I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job. I mean no disrespect to him.”
“At the end of the day, I have nothing against Mr. Biden, but I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job.”
Despite his criticism of Biden, Schmeck told the newspaper he did not consider himself a “Trumper,” but instead a “free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.”
Schmeck said he and his family were following their tradition Friday of calling in to the NORAD Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve, and didn’t know the call would be livestreamed.
A voice on the other end said first lady Jill Biden would be accepting calls but Schmeck said he assumed it would be a recording of the first lady, not a live phone call, according to The Oregonian.
Then, when the president and first lady started speaking with the family, Biden was interested to learn that one of Schmeck’s sons was named Hunter, the same name as the president’s son.
The Bidens and the Schmecks then chatted about items that the Schmeck children hoped to receive for Christmas, with Schmeck adding he himself hoped for “a quiet night.”
“Lots of luck, dad,” the president responded, sparking laughter among the group.
As the call ended, Jill Biden wished the Oregon family a Merry Christmas and Jared Schmeck responded: “I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas as well. Merry Christmas and Let’s go, Brandon!”
Soon afterward, Schmeck’s wife posted an Instagram message, according to The Oregonian.
“My husband may or may not have just told joe and jill Biden ‘let’s go Brandon’ on the phone,’” the message said, with two crying emojis added.
In addition, the newspaper reported, Schmeck also posted a video of their conversation with the Bidens on his YouTube channel, with the caption, “We talked to President Joe Biden on Christmas Eve! #letsgobrandon”
Whether Schmeck has contacted law enforcement about his claims of threatening calls remained unclear.
The Oregon man said he resigned from the Medford police force in 2018 but declined to discuss why, the newspaper reported. He now works for an electric company, according to the newspaper.
“Let’s go, Brandon” started as an errant report by an NBC Sports reporter about a crowd’s chant at a NASCAR race won by driver Brandon Brown. The crowd was actually saying “F— Joe Biden.”
Brown recently told Sports Business Journal that he has struggled to acquire corporate endorsement deals because of the phrase.
Brown also wrote an op-ed in Newsweek last week, claiming he preferred to stay focused on auto racing, not politics.